Trade Resources Industry Views Long Cold Snaps Are Known to Darken Displays on Commercial Signs Using LED Bulbs

Long Cold Snaps Are Known to Darken Displays on Commercial Signs Using LED Bulbs

Eric Driggers is preparing for the heart of winter in the Augusta area, in which he said long cold snaps are known to darken displays on commercial signs using light-emitting diodes, or LED bulbs.

Driggers, the manager of AKO Signs in Martinez, said winter is the busiest season for repairs at the Athens-based advertising business, with technicians battling nature to be on-site of an outage within a couple days.

Driggers said Bobby Jones Expressway, River Watch Parkway and Washington Road already show at least two LED signs falling victim to colder temperatures that have hit the area and shocked electrical panels on overdrive because of shorter days and longer nights.

Driggers said LED signs, which are growing in popularity across the region because of their high energy efficiency and ability to broadcast multiple messages at once, can be repaired but oftentimes require replacement.

“Most signs have a lifespan of five years and are very durable, but the weather does take a toll on them as they age,” Driggers said. “The newer ones typically survive the winter weather we receive, but those that are older than five years have a propensity to malfunction.”

Driggers said frigid temperatures, mostly in the 20s, is the main culprit for LED sign outages.

LED signs are comprised of thousands of tiny light bulbs that fit easily into an electrical circuit.

LED bulbs don’t have a filament that will burn out, but as individual pixels are charged with electricity and glide across the sign’s screen to form words and images, they generate warmth. Like all heat-producing objects, the bulbs can short when met with cold water, Driggers said.

“Air flow is key,” Driggers said. “As long as we don’t experience the winter weather we had last February – the ice, the snow, the craziness – we should be good this year.”

Driggers said LED signs are becoming a more popular choice in Augusta, because the federal Department of Energy reports their lights use 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs and last 25 times longer.

Plus, experts say the cost of operating LED signs is dropping dramatically.

Greg Thorson, the CEO and co-founder of, said on average it costs about $4.80 to operate a traditional incandescent bulb for a year. By comparison, he said it would cost about $1 to similarly operate an LED bulb.

“By far, the most important cost of lighting is the energy your lights consume, not the cost of your bulbs,” Thorson said on his Web site. “Energy-efficient lighting is one of the best investments you can make – low risk, with very high payoff.”

That is in part why David Fields, owner of David Fields Brake and Tire on Washington Road, bought an LED sign from Driggers in mid-November to replace a plastic one that required a ladder to change messages.

“We also wanted to grab more attention to our business by displaying higher quality messages wirelessly though a laptop,” he said.

Fields said he spent four hours pulling images and designing messages to upload and has about 20 messages on rotation, each lasting about three to five seconds.

He said he changes the sign’s advertising each week on his laptop, using a computer program that lets him choose from a variety of backgrounds, colors, font sizes and images. He previews his new message before it displays outside.

Fields hasn’t encountered any problems with the sign, which comes with a 3-year warranty, parts and labor included, but said he has noticed an increase in calls for service.

“All machines that are mechanical or computerized are liable to malfunction every now and then, but the simplicity of using this program, makes it worth the risk,” he said, knocking on wood.

Contribute Copyright Policy
LED Sign Repairs Increase During Winter in Augusta
Topics: Lighting